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Aug 25, 20

“How It Might Should Be Done”: Identity Politics, Counter-Insurgency, and Open Rebellion

“There’s a lot of talk about how to end racism, especially within corporate and academic circles. We saw how to end racism in the streets the first weeks after George Floyd was murdered.”

-Idris Robinson

On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, in collaboration with Red May in Seattle, we present an audio edition of a recent talk by Idris Robinson, which offers up a theoretical analysis of the ongoing George Floyd rebellion. Presenting 10 theses on the revolt, Robinson critically tackles such topics as identity-politics and intersectionality, attempts by the State to carry out a counter-insurgency campaign from the Right and from the neoliberal Center, and a look at the push by various forces to ferment civil war – and what this means in the American context and the continuing fight against the American settler-state.

While this talk makes many points, perhaps it’s most important to to argue that liberals fundamentally want to brush away the very fact that a rebellion did take place and channel the energy of the revolt back into the present system. Moreover, the talk goes onto discuss how identity politics, intersectionality, and privilege discourse play into various ‘soft’ forms of counter-insurgency:

It was only after the uprising began to slow down and exhaust itself that the gravediggers and vampires of the revolution began to reinstate racial lines and impose a new order on the uprising. The most subtle version of this comes from the activists themselves. Our worst enemies are always closest to us. You’ve all been in these marches, these ridiculous marches, where it’s, “white people to the front, black people to the center”—this is just another way of reimposing these lines in a more sophisticated way. What we should be aiming for is what we saw in the first days, when these very boundaries began to dissolve.

The most devastating example of how the racial lines and boundaries are reimposed comes from the example of Rayshard Brooks’ long-time partner, Natalie White, who offers the most blatant example of this racial policing seen so far. White was called out by so-called “woke” Twitter activists for her involvement in the protests in Atlanta over her dead partner. Eventually, they implicated her in the burning of the Wendy’s where Rayshard was killed. It is up to us to never reinforce these sort of bourgeois constructs of guilt or innocence. Whether she had a hand in the destruction or not, I don’t judge her either way. That is not up to us, we stand in solidarity no matter what. But I do hold accountable, I do place blame on the wanna be do-gooders, these “woke” Twitter activists who implicated her in what occurred. I lay the blame solely on those activists, and Rayshard Brooks lays the blame on them from the grave.

Lastly, Robinson discusses how the push towards civil war by everything from Trump himself to Qanon must be looked at in the context of the overall American project and the continued balkanization of US society. Can an emancipatory politics be developed in this moment? What can the history of (the) Civil War in the US teach us about the present? How can we avoid the horrors of past civil-wars as society breaks apart?

As the riots show no signs of letting up, we hope that this discussion launches many more like it, going forward.

More Info: Video version, text version, PDF zine version, and Red May online.

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It’s Going Down is a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide a resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.

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